Here’s a former NFL general manager’s take on C.J. Beathard’s 49ers debut on Sunday: “Quick release. He can run. Good speed. He can get out of trouble. I think he’s kind of got a natural feel that you want a quarterback to have.”
Of course, that assessment needs a large asterisk. It comes from the quarterback’s grandfather, Bobby Beathard, who has watched C.J. sling footballs since he was a skinny little leaguer in Franklin, Tenn.
Bobby wasn’t on hand for C.J.’s first NFL pass in Landover, Md. on Sunday. He watched the game from his Tennessee home. But he and his grandson both said they appreciated the family connection that occurred when C.J. was sent into the game in the second quarter.
Bobby Beathard was the Redskins general manager from 1978-88 and his name, written in burgundy letters, sits atop FedEx Field. Beathard was inducted into the team’s ring of fame last season – he was the 49th member – and this year is a finalist in the contributor category for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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“During warmups, somebody pointed it out to me,” C.J. said Wednesday of his grandfather’s name. “It was really cool.”
Now the grandson has a chance, in his first NFL start, to knock off the same Dallas Cowboys team his grandfather spent more than a decade plotting against in the NFC East.
Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday said defenses approach rookie quarterbacks differently depending on the coordinator. Some will blitz the young passer relentlessly. Others will play it conservatively, forcing the quarterback to slowly work his way downfield and betting that he will make a mistake along the way.
The Cowboys seem likely to take the second approach.
“Dallas has an extremely sound scheme,” Shanahan said. “To me, as sound as one there is in the NFL. They make you work for everything. There is not just a ton of crazy stuff that’s all over the place, but it’s all tied together, so it all looks the same. It’s hard to recognize certain coverages.”
C.J. Beathard has been studying those coverages while also getting used to a new receiving crew. He already has good chemistry with George Kittle, who was his tight end in college, and he’s thrown a lot of passes to fellow rookie Trent Taylor, a frequent target during spring drills when they were both learning the system.
But until this week he’s mostly run the 49ers’ scout-team offense and hasn’t spent a lot of time with veteran receivers like Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin and with running back Carlos Hyde.
“I think getting timing down with some of those receivers I haven’t thrown to is one of the bigger things right now,” he said of his first week as the 49ers’ starter.
Bobby Beathard, meanwhile, said the Redskins fly him and his wife into town once a year for a three-day weekend of events that includes a game at FedEx Field. He said this year’s excursion comes later this month and will be wrapped around the team’s Week 8 game against the Cowboys.
That same week, the 49ers – with C.J. Beathard presumably running the offense – will be a couple of hours north of Washington, D.C., to take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Said Bobby Beathard: “Maybe he can knock off Philadelphia and help the Redskins that week, too.”